Romans: The Clearest Gospel of All
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

#17 – Slaves of God
(Romans 6:16-23)

In the mission service, my colaborer in the ministerial department was a Black American by the name of Art Bushnel.  We had many workshops together.  We were in the Ministerial Department; we had workshops with the pastors.  He had a favorite story, an illustration to show the relationship between the gospel and our acceptance of the gospel.  Of course, he could tell this story with real conviction because the story had to do with a slave that was sold here in the south in this country before the Civil War days.

The slave happened to be a young, strapping, strong man.  He was on the auction block and the auctioneer was trying to convince the crowd that, if they bought him, they would get tremendous work out of him, because he was strong, muscular.  While he was giving this speech — you know, the sales pitch — the slave opened his mouth and said, “I ain’t goin’ to work for nobody!”

The auctioneer turned round to this slave and said, “You keep quiet!  You’re going to work whether you like it or not!”

The bidding went up and up, and a man at the back gave the highest bid, which was quite a high price, for this slave.  Finally the bid went to him, and he came forward with the money, paid the auctioneer, and the auctioneer gave him the key that would unlock the shackles off the slave’s hands and feet.  The man grabbed the chains that were holding the slave’s hands together, and said, “Come along.”

As this new owner dragged him through the crowd, this slave kept on muttering to him, “I ain’t goin’ to work for you!”

The new owner kept quiet; he didn’t say a word until they went some distance away from the crowd.  Then he took the key and unlocked the shackles off the slave’s legs and hands, and then he spoke to the slave.  He said, “Look, I did not buy you to get work out of you; I bought you that I might set you free.”

The poor slave did not know how to handle that; he’d never experienced anything like that.  For a few moments he was dumbfounded.  Then, realizing what this man had done, he fell on his knees and said, “Master, as long as I live, I will serve you!”

Basically, that’s the argument of Paul in this passage that we are covering.  You must be aware of the fact that slavery was something that was practiced in the Roman world during Paul’s time.  In fact, some scholars tell us that anywhere between 40 to 60 percent of the population of the Roman empire were slaves.  That’s quite a high number.  Slavery was quite common in Paul’s day, so he can use this illustration to present a truth that he’s trying to get across in terms of what it means to live under grace.

But before we look at the passage, I would like to remind you of the context of Romans 6.  You need to keep this in mind, because what Paul is doing in chapter 6 is one of the dangers of the gospel.  The dangers are twofold.  The devil doesn’t love the gospel, he hates the gospel, and there are two things he does within the Christian church.  He does something else outside the Christian church to blind the eyes so that they don’t accept the gospel.  But within Christianity he has two counterfeits which we covered last time:

  1. The first counterfeit is legalism, which, in many respects, resembles the gospel but is really a perversion of the gospel.  In a nutshell, legalism simply means something that you experience subjectively, whether it’s good works, or whether it’s circumcision which the Judiazers were pushing in Paul’s day, whether it’s the keeping of the law, or even whether it is experiencing the gift of tongues.  Anything subjective which you depend on, either to a small degree or to a larger degree for your salvation, that is legalism.

    The gospel is clear:  it does produce fruits.  But we must distinguish fruits of the gospel, which is holiness of living, which we will see in a moment, from legalism, which is living a holy life so that you may improve your standing before God or so that you may have salvation.  Paul dealt with that problem in chapter 4, where he showed us clearly that our works, circumcision, and law-keeping in no way contribute towards our salvation.

  2. Now in chapter 6 he’s dealing with the other problem, and that is antinomianism, or libertinism, or cheap grace.

    The gospel is that we are saved entirely as a free gift.  It’s entirely God’s action in Christ that saves us.  But, having a sinful nature, it is very easy for us to pervert that truth and say, “Since I’m no longer under the law but under grace, then why don’t I keep on sinning?  After all, the law can’t condemn me!  I’m under grace, no longer under law.”

You see, the gospel is excellent good news, it’s unconditional good news, but it is dangerous.  The two dangerous statements that Paul is dealing with in Romans 6 are found in Romans 5:20, and Romans 6:14.  In verse 20 he has made a statement:

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more....

In other words, you can pervert that to say, “Paul, the more I sin the more grace will forgive me, the more grace will save me.  So praise the Lord, let us keep on sinning, that grace may abound all the more!”

Can you see that’s a perversion?  So Paul says, “Is this what I mean?”  in verse 1 of chapter 6:

What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

And his answer is, “Unthinkable!  Certainly not!”  The King James Version reads, “God forbid!”  Because a Christian is a person who has died to sin in Christ.  “How can you who are dead to sin say it’s okay to sin?  You’re contradicting your acceptance of the gospel.”

Then in Romans 6:14 he makes the other wonderful statement:

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

What he means here is that sin no longer has authority.  It no longer has the legal right to condemn you, to execute you.  Why?  Because you’re no longer under law but under grace.

As we saw in the last study, in 1 Corinthians 15:56:

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

Like the diplomats in the Third World, they have diplomatic immunity.  An embassy person can break the speed limit in Kenya and the policeman can’t touch him because he’s no longer under the law of Kenya; he has diplomatic immunity.  Well, a Christian has immunity from the condemnation of the law.  The law can no longer say to you if you sin, “If you fall you must die!”  Now is that good news?  Yes!  But is it dangerous?  It sure is.  So Paul is asking that question in Romans 6:15:

What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?

Notice that this is the same question as verse one except from a different approach.  “Does this freedom under grace give us the license to enjoy sin?”

What is his answer?  The same answer as in verse 2 of chapter 6:

By no means!

“Certainly not!  It is unthinkable!  God forbid!”

Then he begins in verse 16-23, which is our passage for this study, to illustrate, using the slave society, or the slavery practice, to tell us that this attitude is a contradiction of the gospel.  He knows Christians struggle, and we will see that in chapter 7, but he’s dealing with attitudes towards sin.

Let’s begin with Romans 6:16.  A Christian must know two things:

1.  He must know that when he was baptized into Christ he died to sin.  That’s in Romans 6:3:

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

The death he died, he died to sin once for all... [verse 10].

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus [verse 11].

2.  The second thing that we must know is [Romans 6:16]:

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

The first thing that I would like to bring out here as we look at verse 16 is something that is very hard for us Americans to grasp.  Because, to an American, freedom is everything.  You fought for the freedom, that is, our forefathers did.  Freedom is everything.  I remember when I was in Idaho, the state was trying to pass a law.  It was during the time when a man killed a policeman, and they were trying to pass a law where they would remove the freedom for the American living in Idaho to carry firearms.  What a noise!  The people rose up in anger:  “You are depriving us of our freedom!”

It is wonderful to have political freedom.  It is wonderful to have economic freedom.  But let us be very clear:  when we talk in the realm of spirituality, in terms of spiritual realms, there is no such thing as freedom.  You’re either a slave of sin, and the Devil, who’s the author of sin, or you’re a slave of God, the Author of righteousness.  There is no such thing as independence in the spiritual realm.  We need to face that.

But, as you look at the passage, you will notice that slavery under sin is our natural inheritance.  In other words, if there was no gospel, we would have no choice, we would all be born slaves to sin, as we are today, but we would have no choice.  But, because of the gospel, you have a choice as to which of the two will be your master.

Now I want to make this clear because we will come to Romans 7 where Paul will make this clear.  But I want to go to the words of Jesus Christ.  But let me remind you when we come to Romans 7, which will be the next three studies, Paul makes it clear in Romans 7:14:

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

It was when Adam fell that we were sold as slaves to sin.

You see, in a slave society, if a man was bought as a slave, and then he had children after he was bought as a slave, his children were not born free.  They were born slaves, too.  In other words, the master owned not only his slave, he owned his slave’s wife, he owned his clothing, he owned his house, he owned his family, his kids, everything.  That is what slavery is all about; you own nothing!  And sin is our master, by inheritance.

With this in mind, turn to John 8.  You see, the Jews had lost the truth of this.  They failed to understand what the Reformers called “total depravity.”  They applied it to the Gentiles:  “Yes, these Gentiles are under sin, but not us.”

Remember, when we did Romans 3, Paul went through all the length of Romans 1:18 right up to Romans 3:20 to prove that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin (chapter 3:9), that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, all have sinned, all are under the law.

But now look at John 8.  Here is Jesus trying to correct, to show the Jews that they need a Savior, that they, too, were slaves to sin.  The statement is found in John 8:32.  Jesus is talking to the Jews and He says in verse 32:

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

What he meant by the word “truth” is found in verse 36.  He meant Himself.  John 8:36:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

But you see, the Jews felt that Jesus was insulting them.  So they responded in verse 33:

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants [we are not Gentiles] and have never been slaves of anyone.  How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Listen to Jesus’ response, John 8:34:

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

Paul will prove this in Romans 7:14-25.  He will say that even if you chose, apart from grace, to keep the law, if you chose to do good, you cannot do it.  Your mind will be brought into captivity and it will make you do what you don’t want to do.

Now I don’t have to convince you, because I hope you all have experienced what I’m talking about.  You have made resolutions, you have made promises; have you kept them?

So, young ladies, when a man says to you, “If you marry me I will love you for the rest of my days,” remember:  unless he’s under grace, he may not be able to keep that promise.  Some of you may have to learn the hard way.  The same holds true for you men.  So please, it is only by grace that we can be set free from the power, the slavery of sin.  Let me go to another passage, and I’m concerned about this.  But please remember what I’m saying: according to verse 16, we have no freedom in the spiritual realm.  There are two masters in this world, Satan and Christ, sin and righteousness, and you and I are either a slave of one or the other.  Turn to the second statement of Jesus Christ, Matthew 6, the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus is trying to do the same thing, but now He’s preaching to His followers.  Matthew 6:24, this is the statement, then He goes to prove and explain the statement in verse 25 to the end of that chapter:

No one can serve two masters....

There are two masters; nobody can serve both the masters at the same time.  I’ll tell you why:  because these masters belong to opposite camps.

...Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other....

And then he explains who the two masters are:

You cannot serve both God and Money.

If Paul or Jesus were here today, they probably would have said, “You can’t serve God and materialism,” or “You can’t serve God and self,” because at the heart of all materialistic problems is self.  You can’t be under God and still allow self, or sin, to dominate you.  You have to choose your master.  Then he goes on to explain this.

I am concerned about this.  We had a board meeting at my former church once and we had a report from the treasurer which was very disheartening:  only one-forth of the families of that church were supporting the church budget.  You know what that means?  It means that three-quarters of the members were having a problem.

I’ll come to the problem in a moment.  But I will say one thing:  if you have chosen Christ as a Master — and this is what Christ is saying — if you have chosen Christ as your master you will not worry about what you will eat, what you will drink, or what you will wear.  That’s the person who’s under Money [or “Mammon”].  Because you will seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and God will supply all your needs.

But we’ll come to that.  Let’s go back to Romans 6.  Paul is saying there are two masters.  Before the gospel came, there was only one master:  sin.  But now there are two masters.  Yes, we are born under sin, that is our natural master.  But because of the gospel, you have the choice, you have the freedom to choose your master.  And Paul is saying in Romans 6:16:

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

If you have chosen sin as your master then you will sin until sin takes you to the grave.  But if you have chosen God as Master, if you have chosen Righteousness as Master, then you have said good-bye to sin.  You can’t have both as your masters.

Now I want you to look once again very carefully at the two masters:  sin and righteousness.  Why did Paul not use the word “faith”?  Because one is obedience to sin and the other one is righteousness by faith.  Why does he use the word “obedience?”  It sounds too legalistic.

Let me explain.  You see, for Paul, the word “faith” was more than a mental assent to truth.  You know, we had a Brother and Sister who had a car accident recently, and one of the questions I asked him (his car was wrecked) was, “Was it insured?”

And he said, “Thank God!  Both my car and the car of the boy who ran into us were insured.”  He believed now that the insurance company would pay him back.  That’s a mental assent to a truth.  But to Paul, faith was more than that.  It was obedience to the truth.  I’m going to demonstrate this from Scripture, but I’ll stick to Romans.  There are many passages I can give you from Paul, but I’ll stick to Romans.  Turn to chapter one of Romans.  In his very introduction, what does he do?  First of all, he introduces himself.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God....

I want you to notice how he introduces himself.  Does he say, “I, Paul, the great Apostle”?  No.  “I, Paul,” a what of Jesus Christ?  If your Bible says servant, the Greek doesn’t say that.  Paul used the word doulos, which is the word “slave.”

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus....

Right at the very introduction, he tells the Roman Christians Whom he has chosen as his Master.  And the moment he became a slave of Jesus Christ, he had to do what Christ told him to do.  On the Damascus Road, that’s where he made his choice.  On the Damascus Road he said to the Lord: “Lord, what would you have me do?  I’m your slave now.  What do you want me to do?”

God said two things: “Number one, I want you to be my Apostle.  Number two, I have chosen you to go to the Gentiles and preach the gospel.”  Paul was “set apart for the gospel of God.”

Then in verse 2, and verse 3, and verse 4, he puts in a nutshell what he means by the word “gospel”:

  1. It is the promise of God (in the Old Testament the gospel was the promise of God);

  2. This promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, Who became one of us in order to be our Savior; and

  3. Who demonstrated that He was Divine and the Son of God by His holiness.

But now look at verse 5, the human response:

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

Now the word “obedience” there is what we would call in Greek a genitive of apposition, which means it’s a word describing faith.  So, to Paul, faith is obedience.  That is Paul’s fundamental definition of faith.  So when I go to chapter 6 of Romans and look at verse 17, listen to what he says:

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.

The Roman Christians had obeyed the gospel.  He’s reminding them of that fact.  Therefore, if they have obeyed the gospel, they have said good-bye to their slavery to sin.

Now let me give you one more chapter in Romans.  This is in chapter 10, where he uses the word “obedience” in the negative.  He’s dealing in chapter 10 with the Jews.  He’s telling his Jews, “I have deep concern for you, but you are lost.  And the reason you are lost is not because you are bad, it is not because God did not keep his promise.”  It is not because God did not fulfill what He promised them; it is because of one reason.  And that’s in Romans 10:16:

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news....

“That’s the reason why you are lost:  you have not obeyed the gospel.”  But then he quotes Isaiah to defend himself; and I want you to notice the quotation.  The quotation does not have the word “obey”; the quotation has the word “believe.”  Because, to Paul, “believe” and “obey” are synonymous.

...For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” [Isaiah 53:1]

Now what does it mean “to obey the gospel”?  What does it mean?  Is it doing something?  No.  Obeying the gospel is surrendering yourself or your will to the truth as it is in Christ.

God comes to you through the gospel and says, “In my Son, you have died.  You have to die, you’re a sinner.  But in My Son you have died.”

Obeying the gospel is saying, “God, I accept the death of Christ as my death.”  THAT is obeying the gospel!  In the gospel you are told that you are alive to God, you have become a slave of God.  Obeying the gospel is saying, “Now, Lord, I am your slave.  Use me, do with me what you want.”  That is obeying the gospel.  It is the total surrender of yourself to Jesus Christ.

But you say, “I don’t want to be a slave!”  Well, if you reject that, you are a slave of Satan, and sin.  You have no choice there.  You may bluff yourself, “I am free.”  If you are free, let me ask you one question, “Prove it!”  Live for one day — I don’t ask you for one week — live for one day without sinning, in thought, word, and deed.  If you can do it, please, let me know.  You deserve a medal.  But you deserve more than that, you deserve to live somewhere else, not on this earth.  We’ll send you to Mars.  Because this world is full of sinners.  Only by the grace of God can we be what God wants us to be.  Jesus said in John 15:5:

...Apart from me you can do nothing.

Never forget that.

Let’s go on.  Paul is reminding the Christians in Rome and, through them to us:  “Remember, a Christian is a person who is a slave of God, no longer of sin but of God and His righteousness.”  And he says in Romans 6:17:

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.

“God be thanked.  You were slaves of sin, then the gospel came to you, and what did you do?  You did not reject the gospel, you surrendered to it, you obeyed it.”  Verse 18:

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

“And now, having been set free from sin, from its slavery, you became slaves of righteousness.”

But there is a difference between these two slaveries.  Under sin, you have no choice.  When you are a slave of sin, you do what sin tells you.  As we deal with Romans 7, you will notice how Paul will explain that.

But, under Christ, God never uses compulsion.  He doesn’t say, “You better do righteousness or I will punish you.”  Christ doesn’t do that, because His slavery is the slavery of One Who is a loving Master.

I want to give you an example.  In the Old Testament, and even in Paul’s day in Rome, there were two kinds of slaves.  You see, if you were freed in Paul’s day from slavery, that would not solve your problem.  I’ll tell you why.  There was no social security in Paul’s day, there was no welfare.  You would starve to death sometimes.

So, there were two kinds of slavery.  Slaves that were bought and were working under a dictator, like that auctioneer was telling the slave, “You will work whether you like it or not.”  That’s one kind of slavery.  The other kind of slavery is when you have the freedom to leave the person you work for but you have chosen to be his slave.

In the Old Testament, this was symbolized by a very interesting practice.  God gave a law to the Jews:  if you buy a slave you cannot own him more than seven years.  After seven years, you must set him free.  But freedom to that slave would mean a lot of problems.  So, sometimes, especially when the master was kind and loving and helpful and considerate, the slave would come to his master and say, “Look.  I know my period of seven years is over, but I would like to be your slave for the rest of my life.”

Do you know what they did, ladies?  They pierced the ears of the slave; that’s the only reason you need to have your ears pierced.  Not to put some gold stuff on it or some shiny stuff, but to tell yourself you are a slave of Jesus Christ.  They pierced the ears, and that was a sign that you are a slave by choice.  Now that is the kind of slave that God wants you to be.  That is why I want you to notice in verse 17:

...You wholeheartedly obeyed....

“You have obeyed from the heart.”  It was no compulsion, God never forces.  I’ll give you an example:  the Jews in the Exodus.  God fed them with manna.  Now I don’t know if you know what manna tasted like, but the Bible tells us it was like wafer with a little touch of honey.  It kind of dissolved in your mouth.  But can you imagine living on wafers breakfast, lunch, and supper, seven days a week for 40 years?  No Sabbath dessert, all you had was manna.  On Sabbath especially it was worse because it was leftovers.  So here you were, you know, manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, manna for supper, and the Jews began to murmer, “God, we are tired of this manna, manna, manna.  We are dying for Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

And God said, “You’ll have it, all you want.”

Do you know how much He gave them?  [A layer in the camp] three feet high.  Have you been swimming in Kentucky Fried Chicken, not 13 pieces in a bowl but three feet high of chicken.  Well, it was pheasant, you know, or quail, which is a lot tastier than chicken, and a lot healthier, probably, because they didn’t pump them with all kinds of chemicals.  They ate it until it came out of their ears.  Now that’s a wonderful Hebrew expression.  Who gave them those quails?  God did.  Was it His wish?  No, they demanded it.  That’s the kind of Master we have.  And if you ask God, “I want to enjoy sin,” He doesn’t say, “You can enjoy sin but I will punish you.”  He says, “My dear child, sin will hurt you, and because it hurts you, it hurts me, because I love you.”

So there is no compulsion.  But God doesn’t want any compulsive obedience.  He wants obedience from the heart.

I want to give you another example.  Turn your Bible to Acts 8.  Do you know who was the first Gentile to be baptized in the Christian church, according to the records?  We don’t know whether he was the first in actual history but, as far as the Bible record is concerned, in terms of actual baptism, he is the first person, Gentile, to be baptized.  Do you know who he was?  The Ethiopian Eunuch.  He was what they would call an “abba-sha.”  They call us “foranji.”  It isn’t too bad a word.  The word in Swahili is worse.  They call us “pongo,” which is a “white monkey.”  It’s Afrikaans; it came from South Africa, but they have good reason you know.  But the thing is this:  Here was this Ethiopian.  He was in Jerusalem worshipping as a Jew, a converted Jew, he was struggling with the book of Isaiah, and God led Philip to him.  And the Ethiopian asked Philip [Acts 8:34]:

Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?

Philip preached to him about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  And you know what the Ethiopian said [Acts 8:36]:

Look, here is water.  Why shouldn’t I be baptized?

And Philip said, “No no no, one moment.  I have to ask you 13 questions.”  He didn’t do that.  One question only.  Here it is, verse 37:

Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”  The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

That’s the question.  And remember, belief is obedience.  “If you obey from the heart, I’ll baptize you.”

The first time I was in Ethiopia they gave me a young evangelist to work under me.  Within three weeks, I said to myself, “This man is not converted.”  He was an evangelist; that means he was an intern.  (That’s the word we use in Africa for interns.  Here we use “pastors” and “elders”; there they use “evangelists” and “pastors.”) So a Pastor there is an ordained minister, an evangelist is an intern.  I don’t know why they call it by these terms, but, anyway, that’s how it is.

I said to myself, “This man needs to be converted first.”  He had all gold teeth; when he smiled, it sparkled.  He was a good actor, would love to pat you on the back to get something out of you.  I said, this man needs to know the message of the cross.  So I spent some time and gave him the cross, and he said, “Boy, you’re making it hard.”

“No, Brother,” I said, “it is only the cross that sets us free.”

He said, “Can you give me a couple of days to think about it?”

“Okay, sure, you have to count the cost,” I said.

He came back two days later, smiling from ear to ear, “Brother Sequeira, I have accepted the cross!”

I said to myself, “It sounds to me like he is lying, but I can’t judge him.”  I said, “Praise the Lord.”  But I thought, “I will know you by your fruits.”

I discovered, three weeks later, that he was lying from beginning to end.  Do you know what he was doing?  He was working for two denominations at the same time:  for us, and getting a salary, and for the Norwegian mission, and getting a salary.  And he could do it, because we kept Sabbath, they kept Sunday, so he could go to church on Sabbath and be on the platform and help me out.  On Sunday he would go to the Norwegian mission.  When I discovered that, I went to visit him.  He didn’t know that I was coming.  You see, the lady in charge spoke Swedish, she was Swedish, and I speak Swedish, and so I spoke to her one day when I met her.  And she said, “You know about ______?”

“Is this the same ______ that I know,” I asked, “with gold teeth?”

“Yes,” she said.

So I went to visit him.  If he turned red in the face you couldn’t see it because of his color.  But I’ll tell you, he sure was embarrassed.  He lied.

I do not know whether you have obeyed the gospel from the heart.  But when I look at three-fourths of the families not supporting a church in terms of budget, I am concerned.  Because by the fruits I can tell that there is something wrong.

Folks, coming to church won’t help you.  And I’ll tell you, of our tithe, we don’t keep one cent here.  It goes all to the General Conference; that’s the policy.  But my concern is spiritual.  If you have not obeyed, if you’re still depending on yourself for support, if you’re still depending on yourself for survival, WHAT WILL YOU DO when the crisis comes and when your faith will be tested?

It is my prayer that you will obey the gospel from the heart and no longer worry what you will eat and what you will drink.  Let God take care of that.  And if you have to starve to death, that’s His problem, not yours.  But your eternal security is sure, folks, when you are under Christ, because the chapter ends that way.  But let’s go on.  Romans 6:19:

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves....

Here I would like to say a few words to young budding theologians studying for the ministry.  I wrestled with the first part of verse 19, “I speak in human terms, because of the weakness of your flesh.”  What is he talking about?

Well, when you go into the background, you discover that the public speakers of Paul’s day were experts at telling stories and using philosophy to get across to the people what they wanted.  Paul is saying here, “I am behaving like one of them, giving you an illustration, a story about slaves, because you have difficulty understanding what I am trying to get across.”  In other words, Paul is saying, “I’m not a story teller.”  When he spoke to the Corinthians, he said [1 Corinthians 1:17]:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

There are too many stories being told from the pulpit, and not enough preaching.  The pulpit is for expounding the word of God.  Paul is saying, “If I use illustrations, it is not to entertain you.”

And I dare not compete at entertaining in America.  Because when I look at your videos, I have no chance to try to entertain you people.  I have no way to entertain you the way the videos can.  In this country, you have all the entertainment that you need.  Like the Jews had quails, you have videos here until they are coming out of your ears.  So I don’t have to add to that.  But I do know one thing, that Paul is saying, “I’m giving you this illustration, because that’s not my pattern, but because you are having difficulty understanding this truth.”  And then he goes on, second half of Romans 6:19:

...Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.

What is Paul saying here?  That both slaveries have development.  And once again, young people, I want to warn you that both slaveries have development.  I remember a young man in college in Ethiopia said to me, “Pastor, what you are teaching is the truth, but I want to enjoy this world, so, when I get to your age, I will accept Christ, but please don’t ask me to do it now.  I need to enjoy life.”

But what he failed to understand is this:  that the more you turn your back to Christ, sin is developing.  You look at alcoholics, look at those who are hooked on drugs.  Where did they begin?  Just by sampling, or by social drinking.  And what does sin do?  It hooks you.  And once it hooks you, boy, then you have all kinds of problems, and your family has all kinds of problems, because there is a development.  So just because you reject the gospel now doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same opportunity, because sin develops.  It gets ahold of you until you reach the point of no return.  Don’t you ever play with the gospel and postpone your acceptance, because that’s what the devil wants you to do.  The devil will say, “Look man, you’re too young.  You need to enjoy life, until you get old.  When your one leg is in the grave then accept Christ.”

That’s a deception, young people, because there is a development.  If you allow sin to continue to develop in you it will get a stronger and stronger hold on you until you reach the point where you cannot, like Saul, turn back to God.  And you’re finished.  I have seen too many people in that camp.  So please, young people, do not treat the gospel lightly.  Yes, sin will give you fun, it will give you wonderful pleasure, but please look at Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death....

The end result, says Paul, of sin is death.  Yes, have fun today but tomorrow you must die.  Romans 6:20:

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.

That doesn’t mean that you were incapable of doing righteousness, but you were incapable of doing GENUINE righteousness.  There are some people who don’t like verse 20.  It is true that the sinful man can do many right things, but never with a right motive.  Therefore, only the Christian can produce righteousness without “self” in it because he has received the gift of Agape.  That is why God says in Isaiah 64:6:

...All our righteous acts are like filthy rags....

Not because the acts are bad; it’s because the motives are bad, because you’re a slave to sin.  It is impossible for an unconverted man to produce righteousness without selfish motives.  That is what the Reformers meant by “total depravity.”

Verses 21 and 22 say that, when you were born a slave of sin, it began to develop.  When you accept Christ, and righteousness becomes now your way of life, please notice there is a development there, too.  So please don’t expect brand-new Christians to live the same way as those who have lived 30 years after accepting Christ.  There must be a growth.

And what happens? While you are growing in righteousness and holiness and in sanctification, you fall.  Is there condemnation? No, because you are not under law but under grace.  But please remember the direction or development must be toward righteousness.  And, therefore, verses 21 and 22 say that each slavery has fruit:

What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Whom is he talking to?  He’s talking to those who have obeyed from the heart the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul, in Galatians 5, will explain, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, holiness, temperance, and here (Romans 6:22) he puts it in one word:  holiness (or sanctification).  And the end is everlasting life.

So both slaveries have a development, both slaveries have fruit [or benefit], and both slaveries have an end result [Romans 6:23]:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Please notice, Paul does not use the word “wages” for eternal life, because eternal life is a gift.  Yes, righteousness is produced in you but never as a contribution towards eternal life.  That’s the evidence, that is the fruit, but never the means of salvation.


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